Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Where is the Mango Princess? by Cathy Crimmins

No one is immune to brain injury, and that is just one reason this memoir is well worth reading. Crimmins skillfully weaves perfect proportions of pain, grief, fear, humor, and facts and statistics to tell her story, and secondarily, her husband’s. Her recountings of post-injury Alan are contrasted with descriptions of pre-accident Alan, a successful trusts and estates officer, and thus, Crimmins offers us a complete picture of what exactly she has lost. You also won't find her ranting about American health care and HMO’s, though she's given reasons galore, and it would be easy for her to drown the narrative with a woe-is-me attitude, but instead, she has obviously taken much care to make sure that this story resists self-pity or sappiness. She includes painful, intimate stories—because they are necessary to completely tell this story—without being crass or trying to create a buffer for her or her husband's roles. And in no way does Crimmins try to protect, nor to unnecessarily horrify, the reader.

Brain injury stories are not easy to read. You will experience, to lesser degrees, what Crimmins experienced, and more remarkably, you will want to keep reading, even when it hurts—especially when it hurts.

1 comment:

Beth Kephart said...

Hello, Jena!! And thank you for this. I have the oddest feeling, reading your review, that I read this book in early draft form, either in galleys or as part of a competition entry...or something. I know the title, I have the feeling that I sunk into it once.

I thank you for the recommendation. And the truth is that Saturday, after posting, I read a book about the making of memoir, which returned me to an early form of mine and anchored me in. So that you were right about needing to move away from fiction for a spell.

I thank you.